New York Daily News reported today that Barnes & Noble will be closing its 15-year old Broadway store due to rising rent costs. With more customers turning to online outlets for books, brick-and-mortar bookstores, especially independent ones, have been struggling to remain relevant. Now, the chain bookstores are also feeling the strain of the economy and the growing interest in digital books. B&N's Lincoln Center location has been popular for many years because of its size and regular author events. With it closing, what does this mean for customers?
In Bring on the Books for Everybody: How Literary Culture Became Popular Culture, Jim Collins looks at how literary culture has transformed into a social activity, with superstore bookshops fueling it. Over the last two decades, superstore bookshops have helped create a customer community. With the rise of more digital books, will this change? Will reading once again become a solitary activity?
Collins uses B&N as one of several examples to describe how literary fiction has been transformed into best-selling, high-concept entertainment. Central to his analysis and, he argues, to contemporary literary culture, is the notion that refined tasted is now easily acquired; it is just a matter of knowing where to access it and whose advice to trust. He explains that B&N is one of several institutions that provides that and helps drive literary culture. If B&N stores like the one near Lincoln Center continue to close, will literary culture start to morph?